Ear Management

It is important to keep Otterhound ears clear of moisture, dirt, burrs, foxtails, etc. I check all ears  (all eight of them!) once a week and every time we come back from the beach or run in the fields. The ‘smell’ test is the best indication that the ears need cleaning. If there is brown stuff and/or a musty odor, we proceed with the maintenance cleaning solution, usually once a month. If a dog has a problem and the ear contunies to be ‘funky’, reapply the solution once a day for a few days. If it still does not clear up, it’s time to contact the vet.

For maintenance cleaning we use the magic purple formula: 4oz bottle of Witch Hazel (or Isopropyl Alcohol) + 1 tablespoon Boric Acid Powder and 4 drops Gentian Violet 1% Solution. Boric Acid Powder & Gentian Violet solution can be found in small/non-chain pharmacies. All ingredients must be mixed before each use. We found that Isopropyl Alcohol tends to sting the dogs so we much prefer using Witch Hazel. Boric Acid does not mix very well, just keep shaking! Gentian Violet is purple and it stains, so be careful when mixing and/or applying to your dog’s ears.


  • Have your dog either standing or sitting
  • Heat up the solution in the microwave for 5 seconds.   Make it warm, not hot.
  • Fill ear with the solution and massage gently for ~30 sec. You can use eye dropper to pour the solution into the ear. We actually use a small 4oz bottle with an applicator (left over from a vet-prescribed ear flush)
  • Wipe the excess fluid with cotton balls or paper towels. The dog will shake it out if you missed anything

Remember: the solution is purple and will stain!

We also used Animax Ointment when Leeloo had a really bad ear infection after a foxtail got stuck in her ear for days. The vet did not see it initially and it took anesthesia to get it out.  I would clean the ear with a Q-tip first to remove the brown stuff. Make sure you are wiping the dirt out and not pushing it in. I know it sounds obvious, but with a dog in motion it may be tricky. After the ear was clean, I would apply a small amount of Animax inside the ear with another Q-tip. It cleared the redness and pussy bumps within a couple of days.

One Response to “Ear Management”

  1. Daniel says:

    great post, thanks for sharing